There's crepe paper in four shades of green - mint, holiday, hunter and forest.

There's roll after roll of athletic tape, masking tape, transparent tape and electrical tape. There's toilet tissue, toilet seats, toilet parts and toilet-tissue dispensers.There are jump ropes, tetherballs, basketballs, hoppy taws and horse-shoes.

And that's just scratching the surface of contents of Granite School District's 30,000-square-foot warehouse, which supplies the state's largest school district. It also holds lengths of pipe, fittings, hinges, coat hooks, tables, chairs, chalk, paste, construction paper and pencils. Never mind sawdust to clean up vomit, rubber gloves and graffiti cleaner.

To say that Granite School District conducts back-to-school shopping is something of a misnomer. Purchases are made year-round and are triggered when warehouse inventories drop below prescribed levels. The inventory averages about $2 million in value.

The district orders paper four times a year. Last year, the warehouse handled more than 70 million sheets of plain, white paper. "And that's just 20-pound white bond," said purchasing director Jim Mecham.

At the same time, the district used more than 366,600 standard No. 2 pencils. That's roughly 41/2 pencils for every student and employee. The district served 74,399 students last year and employs approximately 5,000 people.

The district ordered 1,559 cases of two-ply toilet paper last year, described in the catalog as the jumbo roll variety. Cases are shipped 12 rolls each.

As Mecham puts it, "We buy it by the truckload."

It would seem they buy everything by the truckload in the Granite District - particularly food.

Frozen corn dogs, pizza and chicken nuggets are delivered on wooden pallets, stored in walk-in freezers so large "you can actually drive big forklifts in them," said central kitchen manager Betsy Scholl.

To put the bulk in perspective, the Granite School District uses enough fruit in one day to feed a family of five 1/2-cup daily servings for 16 years.

It takes 537 cows to supply milk to the district for one day. Making tacos for the brood requires 2,500 pounds of hamburger. The district's central kitchen, 3180 S. Eldredge, prepares some 40,000 meals each day, Scholl said.

On the first day of school, the district food service staff will serve hamburgers.

"For just one day we have to buy 4,000 packages of hamburger buns, 190 gallons of ketchup and 150 gallons of pickles," said Scholl.

"We impact many, many people in the span of just a few hours."

When Granite schools or district departments need non-food items, they order them via computer, making selections from a 214-page catalog describing nearly 4,000 items.

When the order arrives at the warehouse, a computer program draws a map of the most efficient route to collect the items. The order is checked three times before it is shipped to avoid errors.

Orders are filled in three to five days.

Warehouse supervisor Phil Johnson said he observes various consumer trends based on orders in the warehouse. Chalkboards are going the way of typewriters in many classrooms as more and more teachers request marker boards.

"That's really a hot item right now," Johnson said.

Unlike private companies that can do business with any firm they prefer, the district operates under state purchasing guidelines that require competitive bidding. Purchases over $10,000 must be approved by the local school board.

"We try to foster competition for the benefit of all in the valley. They are the ones who support us with their local taxes," Mecham said.

Mecham and his crew can take solace in that they're not alone in their efforts.

Rich Field, Jordan School District purchasing director, has the unenviable task of not only supplying existing schools but helping to open new schools. Six elementary schools, one middle school and one high school either have opened or will open within the next year.

"To open a new (elementary) school takes $20,000 in instructional supplies," he said. The total does not take into account the cost of textbooks.

Restocking supplies at an existing school requires about $5,000 per school, Field said.